JOURNEYS & REFLECTIONS
South Africa Educational Study Program

Kruger National Park

May 25, 2007

    The bus ride from Pretoria to the camp we were staying at before arriving at Kruger Park, was long and filled with numerous changes in scenery and several stops in some towns along the way.  Getting out of the city for the weekend was a huge promise of rest, something all could definitely use.  For a while, we passed nothing but flattish land with some smaller hills and sparse trees and shrubbery.  Then we came into a more forest-like area with enormous trees.  We stopped at several rest areas where people sold bowls and other crafts and local restaurants offered African fried chicken – something we never quite figured out.  We also stopped at a road-side stand where we  bought a large bag of oranges - so big and bright.      

    That night at Swadini, we finally had some great bonding time.  It was the first time we were able to hang out together after a really long bus ride and busy days at school and with our host families.  We got to our camp and decided to count off to figure out who was staying with whom and in which cabin.  After settling into our rooms, we jumped at the chance to change into bathing suits and head straight to the hot springs, which was more like a giant hot tub and very relaxing.  Before dinner we bought some South African beer and wine and played cards together.  For dinner we feasted on beef, lamb, chicken, and even warthog, as well as a delicious punch, courtesy of Rina’s son and Alan the chef.  We all introduced ourselves again before eating, learning even more about each other while in the most calm and relaxing setting we’ve seen in awhile.  Sitting around the fire and chatting was exactly what everyone needed after a great, but intense first week.

Ginny, Amanda and


view to Kruger


View on way to Kruger


Warthog on road




May 26, 2007


We woke up this morning in Swadini to a beautiful sight of the tall beautiful red cliffs, we had missed the night before due to the darkness. After a buffet breakfast we boarded the bus and headed out a little before 8:00. While passing game reserves on our way to Kruger Park, several students spotted two lions on the side of the road while others enjoyed the sights of monkeys and zebras!

We entered the park through the Orpen Gate and so began our safari into the southern end of Kruger Park. Driving slowly (at approximately 50 k) for approximately nine hours we searched the vast grassland landscape for numerous types of wondrous animals, birds and creatures. Among the spotted were elephants, giraffes, zebras, waterbuck, wildebeests, and hippos  We also saw many types of antelopes (such as impalas, kudus, and steenboks), baboons, turtles, and numerous types of birds (including brown hawk, swallows, and fish eagles), as well as, crocodiles, and warthogs. Some of the most beautiful sights were a giraffe standing peacefully by the road, a baboon eating its lunch, and a herd of elephants taking a drink.

We arrived at Pretoriuskop after viewing a beautiful sunset around 7:30. After breaking off into small groups to our bungalows we gathered together for another delicious dinner of steak, chicken, veggies, and homemade bread prepared by our guest chefs. Everyone was thrilled to finally stretch out in warm beds and to get rest for the following early morning safari!


Elephants


Zebra


Giraffe


Impala


Kudu

water buffalo


Ready for our night safari


night safari


night safari


night safari


drivers for night safari


May 27, 2007

We rose bright and early so we could venture into Kruger National Park in search of the many wild animals for our first full Safari day.  After rusks and coffee we headed out where we immediately spotted impala, giraffe, and zebra.  After cruising the dry land, we came across several watering holes where hippos, crocodiles, and birds were resting from the hot climate.  On a tight schedule, we drove to the “Boma Project” located in the Skucuza region of the park.  Here, we were introduced to rhinos that were captured and housed for relocation and protection.  Though these were the first rhinos we saw on our journey, we were able to see them in their natural habitat on our night safari.  

We were then given an afternoon rest period where many took advantage of the pool and the rest of Pretorieskop camp.  At five, we began our highly anticipated night safari.  On this exciting journey, we were hoping to see a lion, but instead were able to see many other animals including a rare cat, called a caracal.  Though at the end of the night we were all tired and cold, a late night braai warmed us up for bed.

May 28, 2007

Today we woke to a wonderful breakfast prepared by our South African chefs, Alan and Llewellyn (Rina's son).  The feast included such favorites as cereal, rusks, fruit, and of course, bread and butter.  After we had our fill, we joined our soft spoken, but terribly loveable bus chauffer, Tony, for a day of cruising through Kruger Park.  Almost immediately after our departure from the nationally acclaimed camp, Pretoriuskop (also the first camp ever built at Kruger Park), we did see several animals that we had viewed in the past two days but we still stopped to view and photograph each and every one.

We eventually found our way out of Kruger Park, and with this came our first flea market stop, where, as you can imagine, all of us girls (and Mr. Wright) had a field day, buying all sorts of African goodies – some of you reading this should be looking forward to receiving some of these native treasures!

For lunch, we chose to picnic at a lovely spot within the Drakenburg mountains known as Long Tom Pass.  In the past, artillery was located here for protection, and were subsequently nicknamed “Long Toms.”  Lucky for us, our most brilliant of cooks had packed us a myriad of leftovers, including filet mignon (pronounce the “t” if you want to fit in with the locals) and the most coveted of South African cuisine, cold warthog sausage – mm-mmm!

At last we were back on the road, making sure to include a few more stops to the flea markets (and restrooms).  As we pen this entry, we are still traveling along the dusty South African roads, in the hopes of finally making it from Tony’s magical mystery bus to our destination – ideally before sunrise.